We’ll get back to Happy Hour … but first a word from our sponsor: Big Theology Pharma.

eternal damnation syndrome
Are you suffering from EDS: Eternal Damnation Syndrome?
Folks, have you been saved?

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?

Accepting Jesus as your personal savior is an important moment in the life of God’s children. As the late Reverend Jerry Falwell told us, “if you are not a born again Christian you are a failure as a human being.”

If you fail as a human being you will miss out on the eternal reward that is part of God’s plan for you. Worse, you will be eternally unforgiven and left to the dungeons of Satan who shows no mercy.

Friends, until you come to understand God’s patriarchal order of things, you will remain festered with the EDS infections. As America’s premier televangelist Pat Robertson has declared solemnly,

“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.”

EDS can also have fatal consequences if you and your loved ones remain ignorant of the rampant spiritual warfare going on all around us. As the famous Christian warrior, General Boykin declared,

“We as Americans, we as Christians, need to understand that that’s not the enemy that America’s up against. In fact, the enemy that we’re up against is called the principality of darkness, he’s called Satan. We are in fact in a spiritual battle, ladies and gentlemen, more than we are in a physical battle.”

Now please understand – and we say this with genuine self-righteous and condescending love as we hate the sin but love the sinner – Christ Jesus and the Holy Bible are the only one true path to a cure for EDS.

As that wonderful Christian politician, Tom Delay, told us,

Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border. Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world — only Christianity.” —-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay [R-Tex].

If you are not yet a born again Christian, you have EDS which is a spiritual disease with fatal consequences.

But you can act now! Call the number on the screen or drive out Rapture Road to the Forever Saved Evangelical Megachurch, where we have the antidote to EDS and are selling it at a reasonable eternal price.

We will provide for you from our formula pulpit all you need to know to protect yourself and your family from the terrible consequences of untreated EDS.

We will dose you with scripture. We will throw the Good Book at you because we know that the Bible is perfect, free from error and that includes the wonderful revelations of true science and history of our young 6000-year-old planet.

We will assure you of the literal existence of Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve (yuck yuck, that’s a joke son). We will explain how they tripped over the simplest trap God could set and left us all divinely cursed for ever with EDS – unless you let us dose you with the antidote.

We will show you how God and Noah saved the dinosaurs even though all Noah had was his humble God-designed ark.

We will teach you of the Eternal Godhead who has revealed himself as ONE God existing in THREE persons and you will better understand who is behind the plan to punish you eternally from EDS if you do not repent.

We will tell you about the Lord Jesus Christ, or as we like to refer to Him in our scriptural tone of voice, “Christ Jesus,” who waits for you to appoint Him as your savior and start the healing flow of intravenous spiritual atonement that will eradicate that pernicious EDS from your Edenic-cursed body.

You don’t have to do anything to be cured of EDS except believe in faith after you’ve paid for our product by promising forever the first ten percent of all money that ever falls into  your hands.

Eternity doesn’t come cheap and we have advertising and logistical expenses to meet as we dispense with the cure to EDS.

Once you’re into the pay cycle, Jesus has done the rest and you will be able to strut confidently through the remaining steps of your life, knowing that your future is set, safe, secure and a done deal.

Brothers and Sisters, we will reveal to you the sanctity of marriage and explain how nobody ever got married before God gifted the Jews and later the Christians with the irrevocable  patent and ownership of all marriage contracts.

Curing yourself of EDS is vital in order that you not be a failure as a human being.
We believe in the One God but are worried about Satan & His Judgment. We also believe in the reality and personality of Satan and the eternal judgment of Satan and his angels (again Satan is not a God even though we treat him like one.)

So stand up, gird up your loins and take for yourself the helmet and shield of trust in someone else’s magic.

Act now and we will double your dose of the cure and include the complete set of Left Behind novels so that you will have a better picture of what happens to those who never cure EDS.

Call now … shysters are waiting to help you.

Let’s Pretend

6e9af-conformityLet’s Pretend We Don’t Know We Are Pretending
Enter with us into an imagined world … one myth among many
Once Upon A Time …
Children born into a Church are in most ways unaware and unwitting conscripts into an environment that is totally and unequivocally one of “let’s pretend.”
Since comparative critical thinking is not one of those innate gifts with which most children are born, those born into active, believing and participating families experience from the get-go a circumstance that – if explained to adult recruits/investigators in an honest, fair and responsible manner – might go something like this.
“Now, Brother Brown, we are here today because we are totally happy, totally satisfied, totally believing in the truths we are preaching. We have mentally moved into the world portrayed by these pretend truths and invite you to do the same.
These truths along with the duties and obligations that we consider legitimate, real and effectual in this pretend world, are what you should come to believe in. To get there we challenge you to suspend your disbelief and assume that everything we teach you is the truth.

We invite you to pretend along with us, go along with us, go along with all our stories, rationales and theologies. As you suspend disbelief, you will become more and more planted in this pretend reality we who are members all share.

If you are faithful, at some point, the disparities, the faulty rationales and theologies and the absolute truths will all be just that … absolutes. You will be so convinced that they are all true, that our drama – yours and mine – is the only true reality, that it will be hard to return back to that original curious state that led to your encounter with us.”

That would be the honest way to proselytize.
But such is too honest for a religious organization, especially one that believes and teaches unreasonable notions about itself. Getting lost in unreasonable religious notions means having lost yourself inside a make-believe world.
Whether born into a Church or converted now with a few years of total participation in  your history, you must pursue and suffer withdrawal pains from your addiction to  a pretended dramatic performance in which you have been recruited and commissioned as a participating actor.
This often becomes more challenging if you have been commissioned a more significant role as an actor of influence on a local, regional or home-office level.
Resisting the demands made by fellow actors also caught within this pretended performance may require nothing less than the resistance required in a Prisoner-of-War circumstance in which one has become entrapped and must endure until release is obtained.
The circumstances of the pretended drama for most religions may be porous and permeable allowing entry and exit easily according to desire and inclination. However, in some organizations, the let’s-pretend devolves in the the rigid, inflexible formalism of religious fundamentalism. Some of the circumstances became buttressed by equally pretended but nonetheless real “rules” and “conditions” that must be met in order for the drama to play itself out to a personally successful conclusion.
When such circumstances exist, fellow actors are empowered to work manipulatively (in many cases as unwitting participants) to keep you engaged in the pretended drama through what amounts mostly to mental and emotional coercion.
One becomes subject to threats, warnings and admonitions that are as pretentious as the entire scenario itself …  unless one has been mentally stampeded to believe that not only is the scenario real, but the threats are real and really legitimate.
Inside the pretended drama, belonging and participation validated by fellow actors’ opinions rise almost to paramount importance. It is only in that venue that theologically-based threats appear to be legitimate. The legitimacy lies mostly with our pretending that there IS a God who would let some mortals eternally course or impede the “progress” of other mortals toward some imaginary bliss.
However, without willing suspension of disbelief, such mortals can not be empowered.
Authorities of the earthly church cannot “do” anything to you physically or eternally. They can only request that the actual head of the church – God – do that … with the expectation that God will do what they request because God is in some way bound to go along with it.
If you believe in that kind of God, then I might say that you have been stampeded too far and for too long. You may now consciously (aware of what you are doing) or unconsciously believe in. 
Given that the genuine and loving Divine Parent ought not let one child abuse another for any personal or authoritative retribution, the Church can only physically restrict its validation of anything formal you accomplish, you say or do inside the walls of the formal and conforming church.
The Church can only enforce its specific earthly organizational “club rules” that are expressed in social ostracism, shunning, disfellowshipment and actual dis-enrolling in the earthly club, i.e. excommunication.
Any God who would actually countenance such congregational behavior and turn that sort of power and influence over to a few mortals at the expense of the rest is not a real God, has ceased to be God and in truth does not exist
… unless one is lost in an imagined reality and willing to pretend that such a god IS real
… in which case one in quiet desperation attempts to live in fear of the imaginary divine tyrant.

Organized Religion Anti-Virus

It may be that we all have an unfinished wrestling match with Grandpa Church. It may be that although we have broken Grandpa’s unfair choke hold and have managed to stagger to our feet as well as more or less keep away from those grasping arms, we nevertheless remain engaged and unable to leave the mat.
We do not seem to be able to simply call the match ended and call the inevitable stalemate achieved our victory in combat with a more powerful opponent. In that sense, when he wrestles with us, Grandpa Church applies his arm twisting and choke holds as a leader of a tag team –  which means that among those friend and family souls whom we treasure most, there are many whom Grandpa can tag and thrust into the ring to distract and weaken our resolve through exploitation of
existential angst.
Are we not overwhelming underdogs in a circumstance that is not really “winnable” in terms of being able to retain unfettered relationships with those about whom we care the most so long as we wrestle against Grandpa? Is not Grandpa – as the ultimate tribal elder and authority – practically unassailable?
Cannot Grandpa Church more than likely hold on to more unquestioned loyalty, unquestioned love and unquestioned conformity of more members of those of our own blood who constitute our “in-the-Church” family birthright?
At Wikipedia where I learned that existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard used the word Angest (in
common Danish, angst, meaning “dread” or “anxiety”) to describe
a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity
and fear in the free human being.
Where the animal is a slave to its instincts but always conscious in
its own actions, Kierkegaard believed that the freedom given to people leaves
the human in a constant fear of failing his/her responsibilities to God.
Kierkegaard’s concept of angst is considered to be an important
stepping stone for 20th-century existentialism. While Kierkegaard’s
feeling of angst is fear of actual responsibility to God, in modern use,
angst was broadened by the later existentialists to include general frustration
associated with the conflict between actual responsibilities to self, one’s
principles, and others (possibly including God). 
This was an interesting find for me, principally because I had been pondering the idea of being programmed from birth to be RESPONSIBLE to God; of viewing my life as a gift from God to whom I then owe (am responsible) obligations to generate good fruit.
Belief inculcated from childhood is a difficult thing to overcome when, for example, the transparency of the religious fabrication is not as obvious as the transparency of a cultural myth, say of Santa Claus, to a child growing into an adult. Religious beliefs are planted (one could even use contemporary techno-vocabulary and say “installed’) in our thinking at an early age when the nature of the installation is not easily perceived as beneficent or malevolent.
The malevolent aspect then resembles more of a “virus” that is so firmly installed in so many programs that removal could very well require deletion and re-installation of the fundamental operating system. This because as young and then not-so-young adults who were active in a “program” (the Church), years of intensive activity caused us to  replicate the virus in many venues of our lives,  fortifying those strengthened venues with long-term emotional and spiritual devotion-based activity.
Do we realize how profound that circumstance can be?
Just how powerful is that choke hold we have wrestled against and at what price do we seek and achieve genuine liberation?
I remember a year or so ago in a Mormon Gospel Doctrine class in which the lesson was the Book of Mormon chapters where King Lamoni and his father “converted” to the Nephite gospel and took upon
themselves the name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies,” laid down and buried their weapons and vowed that they would never again live by the sword.
As a discussion ensued about what it means to be truly converted and what kind of change is required if a genuine conversion occurs, we listened to what I felt was a lot of rigid and two-dimensional blathering about knowing truth, being teachable, humble and obedient – most of
which sounded to me like suspending critical thinking and devolving into cookie-cut conformity. That to me was the virus asserting itself.
I finally raised my hand and talked about Star Trek (thinking of The Next Generation.) Like the Book of  Mormon Lamanite characters who became Anti-Nephi-Lehies, Star Trek Klingons are a warrior society. They talk combat and warrior talk all the time. Such is the only way Klingon’s know how to talk. The Warrior culture infuses everything about Klingon society, Warrior principles are based on habits entrenched in the violent culture of battle, combat, victory, vengeance and death before dishonor.
The point I tried to make in that class was that all the conversion stuff about trust, humility and teachable-ness was trivial compared to the magnitude of the change in a way of both thinking and living that would be required for a warrior society to turn its back on violence and combat-mindedness.
In that regard, how do we set ourselves free and bury our old preconceptions which have become part and parcel of our infections? What happens when we awaken? For me it felt like some internal light had ignited in what was not unlike a massive inoculation of truth serum.
Healing was the object based on massive doses of critical thinking and extended logic. That for me, in reality, only began treatment involving removal of a virus that was  continuing to poison.
I would suggest that most of us who linger longer with Mormon Stories groups find themselves in a repetitive pattern of having esolved as well as unresolved feelings about choosing to live a life that
includes or excludes Grandpa Church. Perhaps we have not yet adequately dealt with the virus that may inevitably again start replicating itself in as many venues of our lives as possible.
I don’t know what the cure for that virus really is or what anti-virus program one could self-install to become free of that particular existential angst. 
I believe that it is possible to construct boundaries (firewalls if you will) that oppose the virus.
Having said that, I can then confess that for me, all that God talk, all that programmed sober-minded discussion of Eternity and a God-parent who demands that He be pleased in every sense has become
exceedingly wearisome. I have sought out my own new treasures that require no programming, that invite exploration that includes not only finding new wisdom but new entertainment as well.
I do not believe or accept any notion of a religiously defined or religion-based Eternity nor any notion that whatever possesses Eternity is a moralizing, ordinance-principle-and-covenant maker who invents the game, makes the rules and calls the score.
As I’ve written more frequently, I totally reject the entirety of the theologies of the world’s Abrahamic  religions of which Mormonism is currently number 4. In doing so, I personally feel freed and liberated from any notion of obligation or responsibility to God regarding sin, evil, atonement, redemption
or being carnally an  enemy to God.
I echo a friend whose privacy I want to respect who wrote,
” … I only “do” what I “feel” like
“doing” in relation to “The Church”. The absolute hardest
thing I ever did was to give myself permission to NOT DO Church.
When I feel like doing, being, etc anything “Church” I just
do it. Doesn’t set the precedence that I’m rushing back. It’s more like I said
– “snack”. Reading, exploring, participating, only as an
“interest” not a duty. Maybe it’s kind of a “hobby”?
But either way, I think you get my drift. It’s taken over 2 yrs and I
feel absolutely FINE with my relationship w/ the Church, or lack thereof.

Portrait of Dysfunctional Religion: The Mormon Model

I was born and raised in a fully LDS community some 160 miles north of Salt Lake City. I am culturally a heritage-based Mormon to this day. It is from that perspective then – the religious perspective with which I’ve spent most of my life – that I am able then to write this portrait.

What does it mean to live spiritually?
Mormonism can be defined as a performance-based religion with the following operational formula:
Obedience + Worthiness constitutes Spirituality … which leads to blessings
Churches that encourage the belief that heaven is the destiny and reward toward which one directs a life of accumulated accomplishments are known as performance-based religions. The LDS Church with its systematic theologies, doctrines and programs may very well be the ultimate example and pattern of this way of imagining god and god’s reality.
Although entirely lacking proof in any physical or spiritual form of such a realm organized after the pattern of that 19th-century reality,  Joseph Smith and a host of early American prophets, evangelists and circuit-riding preachers asserted in creatively imagined and described forms, the notion that the ultimate truthfulness of the spirit world is based on performance and worthiness.
The Divine Abusive Elephant in the Living Room
This imagined reality, consistently asserted over more than the past two centuries, is why most believing Mormons today – easily and perhaps without much critical thought – buy into Church legalism. It becomes almost second nature to accept the idea of an over-controlling detail-obsessed God whose portrayed behavior looks so much like a domineering patriarchal alcoholic who is in reality a controlling parent, spouse or lover.
Uncritically, as an act of faith, devotion and obedience many sincere believers buy without question into the notions such as

  •      humans are so imperfect that God created religion by which that Divine Male Patriarch could – in a loving but domineering manner – thrust guidelines for living into our lives.
  • Such guidelines almost casually become laws or, better said, doctrines “irrevocably decreed” which the children of said God are expected to follow.
  • This God of guidelines demands strict adherence to such doctrines which in fact do nothing more than establish a notion that obedience is elevated at the expense of agency.
  • The highest spiritual approval in life is nothing more than an experiential pat on the head for being an obedient child.
The implications of such internalized assumptions include an idea that the God and Father of Obedience created a world abundant with the fruits of creative activity, but then commanded adherence to a list of the performances – or in some cases, negative performances – that the children of God are expected to do … or not do …
A performance-based religion puts bans on what are perceived to be inappropriate things. These bans become “laws of the Church” which by implication become “Laws of God” which are viewed than as “Irrevocably Decreed” and upon which a worthiness obsessed God grants rewards.
In a performance-based-religion, members are banned from inappropriate music, television, movies, books and other literature. Freedom of  expression in art, music, and other forms of entertainment are seen as risks that may cause the Father to stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion certain food and drink products are banned and seen as the causes of risks that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion the Father requires strict adherence to dress and personal appearance codes the rejection of which creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion scriptures become the means and tool that can be utilized to effectively stand in for a lack of contemporary legitimate on-going revelation from the same God who started everything eons ago by speaking directly to his children. Scripture then becomes the weapon that confronts those who challenge would-be church-proclaimed prophets who don’t seem to do much contemporary prophesying, seeing or revelating themselves..
In a performance-based-religion, the very Father of Obedience – who has become in fact a Father of Conformity – does not speak to His church except through the voices of those who declare that the same silent Father has established in this performance-based-religion the only acceptable and effective means to salvation.
The Father of Conformity either refuses or is unwilling to justify or explain how such an only-right-means-to-salvation system and circumstance is equally fair and just to every other human being on the planet, not to mention why a privileged minority are granted the divine privilege of being born inside this only-right-means while the rest of the world must figure and work it out for themselves.
In a performance-based religion, like an overly strict and self-absorbed alcoholic parent, the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of emotional guilt, intimidation, thought control and coercion to keep family  members in line. He is also seen as justifying and endorsing guilt-ridden sermons and lessons designed to push believers into submitting to the authority of the leadership without question or criticism. Failure to respect the leadership creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based religion the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of the theory that people should spend long hours at the Church and do work in the Church in order to gain rewards in heaven. A bureaucracy has been created at all levels in order to engender, monitor and “lovingly” coerce this sort of working participation which then becomes the standard by which member spirituality is measured and recognized. This is not unlike the demand of an alcoholic tyrant that his family enable his behavior.
The same bureaucracy becomes then a powerful instrument for limiting criticism and dissention through emotional and spiritual abuse by perceived authority and endorsement by the Father of Conformity.
What is happening today and something about which the grand bureaucracy at all levels refuses to admit to being in denial about is that the process of establishing and enforcing man-made rules and doctrines creates mere man-made leadership. These leaders tend to nothing other than, or nothing better than the jot-and-tittle Pharisees of the New Testament. They are driving many away who would otherwise not be driven away.
Some who are driven away leave with emotional scars that cause depression, substance abuse and – unfortunately – suicide, along with the very activities against which the religion relentlessly preached. One can make a case the some of those driven off are at least temporarily not prepared to deal with life and society in a manner that is free from long-internalized judgmental and narrow notions.
The gentle but rigid Church programming involves and in fact revolves around forms of guilt and coercion. Within the Church as well as among those driven off there is a danger of low self-esteem that causes essentially unreasonable reactions to the Church itself.
Repentance becomes much more than returning to God.  It involves returning to the Church from which one has fled in desperation. This is not unlike a battered-wives syndrome where one consciously returns to a life at home with a mean and unrepentant battering inebriated spouse who wants her back but will –once she returns – continue business as usual.
There is a genuine tragedy when one feels driven off from the clan or out of the tribe because, like an enormous and ominous dark tower, the Church rises in the background or even the actual center of the tribal village. The Church thrusts itself with impunity into the middle of family relationships to which it has no moral or God-given right to interfere.
Members – unconsciously in many cases – are forced to choose between Church and family.
The Father of Conformity has said nothing about why this circumstance is a positive fruit by which that Father is known among the children of men. The either-or attitude may only be a perception of those driven off when the rest of the family remains inside the righteous but unseen walls of Church conformity. However, the Church does little or nothing to address that very family estrangement of which the Church and its historical narrative, that which informs it’s the Church’s justification for existing, is the principle cause.
Limited serenity that comes from separation from the direct and immediate sources of emotional pain still feels like something much better than the rigidly inflexible cauldron of conformity whose principal legacy is misery.
One day perhaps enough souls will be driven out of that imagined reality to change the face of the Church which might then turn away from the performance-based religious corporation it has become.
If not, those who imagine themselves to be living lives of actual free agency in the Great and Spacious Building may come to have greater power and influence than those who imagine themselves as children of the Father of Conformity.